PRESIDENT Paul Kagame won a second seven year mandate from Rwandans to lead this country. Thanks to Rwandans, the campaigns and elections were peaceful and no political animosities or assignments of blame were witnessed. The democratic process was marked by mutual respect signaling continuity.
Continuity and unity of purpose have led the country from the ravages of war and genocide to a country that has been on a steady path of progress for 16 years.
It is worth noting that majority of Rwandans have embraced the style of governance that promises sustainable development and respect for human dignity.
This was demonstrated by the recent turn out in big numbers to elect a president that guarantees continuity.
The 97 per cent voter turnout reflects a high degree of unity and reconciliation for as one psychologist says ‘when groups which were formally antagonistic engage in activities that are aimed at a shared future, they are more likely to develop mutual trust which is a vital step towards reconciliation’.
Reconciliation was core to all party manifestos during the presidential race, and all candidates did not only avoid any statement that could lead to divisionism but openly criticized our brothers abroad bent on planting seeds of the evil of divisionism, and advised the population to be weary of such selfish politicians.
In political Science parlance, one could say that the four candidates came up as liberal politicians who did not proffer pledges that defy reality, but advanced policies based on facts and reason suggesting a government that truly serves Rwandans.
The candidates, rightly, claimed their fair share of the success story of Rwanda, as they have been members of the governing elite since the days of the “Government of National Unity”, an all party coalition government that came into being after the genocidal forces were defeated in 1994, leading me to pose this question; what then, was new in the PSD, PL and PPC manifestos?
All the parties, as mentioned above, pledged to build on what had been achieved in the areas of socio-economic development, good governance, security and dignity of citizens and their country.
However, the differences appear to have been in the methods of work and strategies perceived to achieve the main goals.
Some well thought out proposal were advanced by the candidates which should attract government attention and consideration, but I will discuss only a few starting with PPC‘s candidate Dr. Alvera Mukabaramba proposal to improve the welfare of teachers by doubling their salaries and to establish nursery schools in every Mudugudu.
PSD’s Ntwukuriryayo also promised to double the teacher’s salaries within three years if elected.
Dr. Mukabaramba’s proposal received such tremendous support countrywide that when President Kagame appeared on Contact FM show – Rwanda decides, hosted by the tough talking Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda, he received volumes of Sims’s on the issue.
The president in response said that an increase of the proportion suggested by PPC would strain the national coffers to the tune of Rwf 50 bn. Implying that teacher’ salaries alone would constitute about nine percent of the national budget.
This sounds loads of money, but where did the senator hope to get the teachers salaries! In her opinion, it was all a matter of budgetary priorities and I am inclined to agree with her concern especially in case of primary school teachers when you imagine the life of a teacher in Kigali who earns 30,000 Rwf and has to pay rent, food, transport etc.
If all teachers can’t be remunerated at once, there is need to consider special cases.
In Kenya teachers and other public service employees who work in cities like Nairobi, Mombassa and Kisumu get a special housing and transport allowances.
Hopefully when the budget increases as result of the expected tax base expansion, teachers’ remuneration will be high on the priority scale. We can’t just say, they are too many.
The education sector featured prominently in the campaigns and good suggestions were made. As I have said before in this column, and was emphasized in the campaign period, there is need for technical education.
Compared to our neighbors in the East African Community, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, we are still lagging behind and if education planners don’t address the issue urgently, we shall continue to rely on them for skilled labour for our industries and even in the process of mechanizing Agriculture.
In conclusion I wish to tell our brothers in self-exile in European and other capitals to come back and contribute to national development.
It is not patriotism to fabricate stories about your mother land as pretext to undermine the government elected by the people.
When the likes of Rusesabagina, ask their hosts to withhold assistance who suffers? Surely when the time comes for you to join the leadership of this country, you will not be happy to find an illiterate, hungry, divided population.
Fortunately, we are living in an age of telecommunication, where lies have a brief life span. Truth soon prevails over.
As for those behind the grenades that have claimed lives of innocent people in Kigali, what will you tell your creator when time comes.
It is an extreme act of barbarism, a vice that negates any claim to leadership, for a leader has to be virtuous. What habits are you teaching the youth!
Aristotle, a Greek philosopher stated that “the formation of habits should begin in childhood and a youth cannot practice politics because he needs first to learn all virtuous habits taught by his elders, the legislators who instruct the citizens in virtuous habits”.
Our politicians did just that during the presidential campaigns and should serve as role models for the youth aspiring to become politicians.